Autumn in France, is one of the best times for a visit, whether it is to the south, the north, east or west. The temperature is usually mild everywhere, the sun still shines, nights are cooler and crowds are thinner.
After the long, lazy, languorous days of summer, there is an air of anticipation, of renewal even, La Rentrée is over and everyone has returned to work, to school, to normality. There is an extra zest to the days which grow shorter and for me, this is the best time for long walks, to enjoy the last colours of summer in the parks and gardens as flowers and fauna put on a last burst of energy and the leaves turn yellow, gold and red.
There is less traffic as less people are on holiday. Did you know that almost 80% of French people take a holiday at home – that is to say in France? And, most of them take two to three weeks during July and August, no wonder there seems to be so many cars around in the summer months.
The beaches are almost empty in September and October and yet, there’s still much sun and warmth to enjoy.
So, if you can, take in a trip to France in the autumn and enjoy the quiet time between summer and Christmas…
Three lovely towns to enjoy autumn in France:
The department of Aveyron is like a place that time forgot, magical villages perched high on ridges, forests and fields, babbling streams and ancient castles. Brilliant for walking and cycling, painting or photography, a place where the scenery is forever changing and never more so than in autumn when blue skies vie with golden leaved woods for your attention.
Najac, one of the most beautiful villages in France…
Villefranche de Rouergue with its magnificent Thursday morning market
Conques, a place that has been nourishing the souls of pilgrims for centuries, another “plus beaux village de France”, rocky crags, chestnut, pine and oak trees and a sensational medieval village…
Rodez museum – an artist and a chef create a winning, inspirational combination at Rodez Museum. Pierre Soulages, internationally renowned artist, shows more than 500 works. Take a break in the museum restaurant where food meets art as 3 Michelin Star chef Michel Bras creates
More info from: Tourism Aveyron
Le Touquet Paris-Plage
Just 2.5 hours from Paris, Le Touquet on the Opal Cost of northern France is a secret haunt of Parisians in the know. Chic streets and shops, the art deco Westminster hotel where Michelin star chef William Elliot is in residence, long golden beaches and bracing fresh air.
This is a place to unwind, play golf, enjoy long walks on the beach and in the surrounding pine forests, go horse riding in the dunes, seal spotting in the bays, cycling on quiet country roads and learn to sand yacht (as the Queen did many years ago here)…
Enjoy the Saturday morning market in Le Touquet’s listed, covered art deco market.
Slurp mussels and chips, the most popular local dish, the mussels are local and delicious… best restaurant in town is Chez Perard (rue Jean de Metz) – with a fab oyster bar, brasserie restaurant, great service and amazing, and I mean really amazing, food.
Enjoy one of the many sporting activities – on the beach, in the countryside and forests, dunes and on the famous golf courses…
Watch the world go by from a terraced café in Le Touquet over a hot chocolate or glass of wine or from the cosy bar of Le West, as this art deco gem of a hotel is affectionately known – Hotel Westminster. If you’re in the mood for a memorable meal, the Michelin star Le Pavillon is awesome.
Wander the ramparts of the ancient town of Montreuil-sur-Mer close by..
More info from: Tourism Le Touquet
Although not far from Paris, this area is a little bit off the beaten track and truly lovely. A land of forests, fields, rivers, vineyards and ancient towns. It is also where you will find the Lake Der-Chantecoq, one of the biggest artificial lakes in Europe.
Langres: A stunning hill top town with the longest ramparts in Europe from which you can take in magnificent views over the countryside. The town boasts several entry gates including an incredibly well preserved Roman gate and a “new” 16th Century gate!
Colombey les Deux Eglises: The home of Charles de Gaulle, President of France. Visit La Boisserie, where nothing has been touched, a time capsule to the famous Frenchman. The Charles de Gaulle Memorial Centre where the life and times of the President are presented in an innovative, interactive and fascinating exhibition.
Nature: The “Tufière”, Rolampont. An incredible, enormous natural staircase formed by the trickling of water through chalky soil. Constantly changing this is an outstanding area of natural beauty where the rock tufa is formed on a daily basis. Enjoy wildlife, plants and the magic of walking through this forest that is a unique natural laboratory.
Dinner at the wonderful Hotel La Source Bleue, iconic French singer Charles Trenet dined here and penned a song in its honour so taken with it was he. Take a wander round the lake and discover the source bleue for yourself.
Read more about the Haut-Marne area, the secret part of Champagne in the FREE The Good Life France Magazine